Santa Rosa Island & Pensacola, Fl. [ca. October 9, 1861 - May 10, 1862]. Six pencil drawings. Various sizes as detailed below. Three of these drawings are found on the backs of printed rolls for New York volunteer regiments. A few small edge or corner tears and light stains. Overall in very good condition. All but drawing number 2 below matted. Laid in a cloth chemise within a half morocco and cloth slipcase. Item #WRCAM57812
These six vividly detailed pencil drawings of Civil War combat and soldiering near Fort Pickens on the Florida panhandle are the original on-the-spot sketches executed by HARPER'S WEEKLY artist and correspondent Charles F. Allgouer. They served as the basis for woodcuts published in HARPER'S WEEKLY shortly after they were made, and are important firsthand visual evidence of the early stages of the Civil War in Florida.
Allgouer was attached to the Sixth New York Volunteers, better known as "Colonel Wilson's Zouaves," an outfit seemingly particularly susceptible to Rebel ambush and bombardment. Few combat artists were working in the Florida theatre of the war in 1861, certainly none closer to the action than Allgouer. In a HARPER'S WEEKLY dispatch of December 28, 1861, Allgouer commented: "I hope you will publish all the sketches of the bombardment. There is no one on the island at present sketching for any papers but myself, and they are therefore alone original sketches."
Florida seceded from the Union on January 10, 1861. Fort Pickens and Santa Rosa Island, critical to the control of the harbor at Pensacola, quickly became flashpoints in the fight to dominate the Gulf of Mexico. Although seriously outnumbered, Union forces occupying Fort Pickens and Santa Rosa Island generally controlled the area. But the Confederates, operating from their own pirate- like bases in the harbor and along the coast, constantly harassed the Union forts, camps, and artillery batteries. Charles Allgouer was in the Zouave camp early in the morning of October 9, 1861, when it was surrounded, shot up and burned down by a large Rebel infantry force. Later in the year, he was caught in the fierce cannon-fire aimed at the Zouaves from the Confederate gunboats hiding in the harbor. He survived and, remaining on Santa Rosa Island for the next seven months, supplied HARPER'S WEEKLY with his drawings and military intelligence. His drawings provide a graphic visual record of the beginning of the Civil War in Florida.
These drawings include:
1) "Headquarters 1st Brigade Groves Division." Probably drawn October 8, 1861, or a few days earlier. The view is of a peaceful and orderly camp, the base of Col. William Wilson's Zouaves. Two Union officers and a dandified civilian on horseback approach the headquarters tent, its American flag and "Wilson's Zouaves" pennant flying high in the crosswinds. Atop the lookout tower, the Zouaves have planted a home-made flag declaring "Death to Secession." Pencil on paper, approximately 6 x 9 inches on an unevenly trimmed sheet, titled in ink lower image, signed lower right: "C.F. Allgouer."
2) "The Battle of Santa Rosa. October 9, 1861 - The Attack Upon Wilson's Camp." A great battle drawing, depicting the surprise attack on Colonel Wilson's Zouaves by one thousand Confederates under the command of Gen. Richard Heron Anderson. Confederate forces surrounded the camp and attacked in a flash of rifle fire, setting the tents on fire and chasing the Zouaves toward Pensacola Bay. After a short retreat, Wilson rallied his men and drove back the enemy. With the appearance of a company of regulars, Wilson routed the Rebels and, according to Allgouer, "chased them back to their boats, and peppered them well while they were embarking." This drawing appeared as a half- page woodcut in the December 7, 1861 issue of HARPER'S WEEKLY, from which the title is taken. Pencil on paper, approximately 11 1/2 x 15 1/4 inches, on unevenly trimmed sheet, laid down on mat board.
3) "Camp Grounds of Col. W. Wilson's Zouaves sketched after the Burning of the Tents by the Rebels on October 9, 1861." A quick sketch, notable for the absence of the Zouave's "Death to Secession" flag. Pencil on paper, approximately 6 1/4 x 9 inches, executed on the reverse of a unevenly trimmed printed roll of a New York volunteer regiment, titled in pencil lower image.
4) "Explosion of some shells 2 days after the Bombardment. Nov. 22, 1861." A frightening scene, probably within the walls of Fort Pickens, of five Union ordnance men dying in an explosion of their own shells. Ironically, the men had just survived a horrific three-day artillery barrage. Pencil on paper, approximately 9 x 12 inches, executed on the reverse of a unevenly trimmed printed roll of a New York volunteer regiment, titled in ink lower image, signed lower right: "C F Allgouer."
5) "Confederate Fleet consisting of 5 steamers and about 8 or 10 sailing crafts / Lower End of Warrington Navy yard Fla / A Steam Boilers / B Machinery / C Sand Battery / D Loading Guns on Boats Nov. 19 1861." An important depiction of Confederate naval strength in the Gulf of Mexico. Pencil on paper, approximately 6 x 17 3/4 inches, executed on the reverse of an unevenly trimmed printed roll of a New York volunteer regiment, titled in ink lower image, initialed lower right: "CFA." This very fine drawing appears as a half-page woodcut in the December 28, 1861 issue of HARPER'S WEEKLY.
6) "Embarkation of the Troops on Santa Rosa Fla. May 10, 1862." A grand picture of hundreds of Yankee infantrymen, jaunty and eager for action, boarding a huge American steamship - destination probably New Orleans and battles north along the Mississippi River. An imposing mansion on the opposite shore overlooks the scene. Pencil on paper, approximately 9 1/4 x 11 1/2 inches, laid down on mat board, initialed lower right: "CFA."
Any original materials from the Florida theatre of the Civil War are quite rare in the marketplace. First-class drawings with significant Florida historical content - and these Charles Allgouer drawings meet those criteria - have largely found homes in institutions and are considered virtually unobtainable. HARPER'S WEEKLY: October 26, December 7, December 26, 1861. E.B. Long, THE CIVIL WAR DAY BY DAY (Garden City, 1971), passim.